FOUNDED by James C. Crow in Frankfurt, Kentucky around 1835, Old Crow bourbon whiskey is one of Kentucky’s earliest bourbons. After Crow’s death in 1856, the company was acquired by W.A. Gaines and Company, who continued to distill the spirit but not with the original recipe, which died with its creator. The Old Crow emblem underwent several changes over time. The original logo depicted James Crow and was replaced after the Civil War with an image of a crow atop stalks of barley. The tuxedo festooned mascot came along later. Our earliest piece with the formally dressed bird dates to the 1930s. Once a very popular whiskey, Old Crow is said to have been the favorite whiskey of Henry Clay, Ulysses S. Grant, Mark Twain, and Hunter S. Thompson. The brand is now owned by Beam Suntory, which also distills Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, and Canadian Club, among others. Shown here are various items used by Old Crow to promote their product.
TO provide a complete picture of alcoholic beverages, we have sought out ephemera and artifacts-- materials that provide an important dimension to the economic and cultural history surrounding liquor. In this case we show an array of items that might be overlooked for scholarly use. But when they are studied alongside textual documents, they provide a vital link and insight to the past that a book alone could not.